Bitter! Bitter! Bitter!

Photo by Matt Hoffman on Unsplash

Isn’t it just like life when you start looking at something closely you find it around every corner? As you know, I’m learning the bittersweet. Right now I’m seeing the bitter…Everywhere!

The word in English actual means sweet with a bitter aftertaste, or a poisonous climbing plant. I still haven’t found the word “bittersweet” in the bible. There are lots of references to “bitter” and to “sweet.” A few references have both words in them. I haven’t even broached poisonous vines yet! Whew! this word study is going to take a while!

Now personally, I would love to only focus on the sweet! I mean I do love sweet stuff! I decided to tackle the passages dealing with bitter and sweet together first. There are less of those references. But God seems to have other plans for me.

One of the things I do when I embark on a word study is open my eyes to the word in my surroundings. It makes me hyper-aware of my world in relation to the study journey I am taking. Well…Lately I’m seeing bitter everywhere. Makes me want to stamp my foot! “Lord I want the sweetness too!”

I think I heard that chuckle as I look heavenward.  He knows what I need even when I don’t want to follow the path, little stubborn ewe that I am. I was cleaning out my emails and came across Girlfriends in God email from

The email was from a few weeks ago. The title caught my eye, A Bitter Cup. Of course I had to open it and read the contents. I couldn’t resist. Cleaning out my email would wait another day…right?

Well this girlfriend discussed the bitter cups in our lives. She describes how parents can pour their bitterness out to their children. As the children sip from the cup of bitterness they grow bitter roots.

I sat back and thought I can relate to that. My father grew up with a bitter father. He learned the bitter at the knee of his father. Now as an elder man he follows the same path by keeping his bitterness in his soul. I watch his bitterness morphing into fear, paranoia, and distrust. The bitter root rules his old age.

In contrast, my mother grew up with a bitter alcoholic mother. She made a decision as a young woman to follow Jesus Christ. She also made the decision to learn from her parents and be a better parent. The path she chose was very different from the one she learned as a child. When we get together she is filled with love, joy and peace. The essence of the Holy Spirit surrounds her.

I have to say I am blessed to have the contrasting examples. If I pay attention I will find my way. I continued to read the email. At one point the girlfriend talks about a teacher who taught her when life hands you a bitter cup, it is you need to drink all of it, not to pass it to others (I have paraphrased here). The verse she chose for the devotional is:

Hebrews 12:15 (I used the NABRE):  “See to it that no one be deprived of the grace of God that no bitter root spring up and cause trouble, through which many may become defiled,

When I read this I thought of all the ways we spread our cup of bitterness with those around us (whether they want it or not). My father spits out his bitterness with verbal abuse. I thought of the times I’ve spread gossip, and division. How I’ve commiserated with others. Ya know the “woe is me” game. “My problems are bigger than yours “competition. I’m not proud of it but, these are some of the ways I have participated in sharing the bitter cup.

It’s not easy right now. Life swirls around me with anxiety and stress. But, remember back to where God was teaching me about my roots. In one of the posts I found I can dig the unwanted roots out of my garden. After looking at the contrast between my parents I find; if I choose to trust God today, I am digging out the bitter root of my fathers.

I may get my hands dirty but…I choose to dig! May the peace of God rest in your soul.


Photo by Robb Leahy on Unsplash

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s